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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4285 ..

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his interest in public transport. Certainly, the auditor made a number of findings that raised continuing concerns in relation to the operation of the ACTION network. Some of those were in relation to a lack or absence of drivers. I think it is a pity, at one level, that the report was not perhaps more detailed than it was. It is a pity that it did not provide context and it is a pity that it did not provide background. Indeed, in relation to the bland statement included within the question around a lack of drivers, of course they were driver absences as a result almost always, as I understand it, of drivers taking sick leave.

I guess at the heart of Mr Seselja’s question is: what steps have successive governments taken in relation to the issue of bus drivers not presenting for work as a result of taking sick leave and not presenting on a particular day, as a result of which, of course, there is significant pressure and stress on the network? ACTION does, as a matter of routine, provide for four additional drivers every day, at the beginning of shifts, to cover anticipated absences as a result of sick leave. In an ideal world, of course, ACTION would like to provide for greater coverage in anticipation of sick leave or non-attendance by drivers on a day.

The two issues that are raised in the Leader of the Opposition’s question—a lack of drivers or a lack of buses—are a response not to the fact that there is not a significant workforce or enough drivers or, indeed, an excess of drivers to cover the shifts. It is a question around the level of sick leave that is taken on a particular day. In relation to no buses being available, it is a question around buses that had broken down and a shortage as a result of breakdowns or non-availability. We have been increasing the fleet.

The question is: what have we done? What we have done in the last couple of years in relation to ACTION and in relation to buses is that we have provided the single greatest injection of funding for a replacement fleet. Indeed, $50 million in a single appropriation provided an additional 100 buses. That was a far greater investment in buses than any other government has ever attempted or implemented—a massive investment; 100 new buses through a $50 million injection. They are some of the things we have done and the numbers we are increasing and compounding in years going ahead.

What have we done in recent years? We have expended more on public transport, both operationally and in a capital sense, than any other government since self-government. But it is a big bus to turn around, so to say. There are a range of entrenched inefficiencies. We are working incrementally to deal with all the issues in relation to infrastructure, in relation to the numbers of drivers and, importantly, in relation to the industrial landscape.

Mr Seselja asked me, “What have you done?” We are following through with attempts to negotiate a new EBA that deals with some of the really difficult and problematic issues in relation to the management of this business; namely, the industrial arrangements and the industrial landscape. Indeed, the Liberal government attempted to do the same. But it got too hard and they abandoned any attempts to

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